I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.—Nathaniel Hawthorne
(Except when in the kitchen!)
I hadn't been to the farmers market in weeks so this morning, while not even out of bed yet, I decided this was the day. It was a different kind of Sunday there...the wind was strong and sharp, and the Thanksgiving holiday had emptied out the usual crowd. The booths looked less abundant than at their summer height, even though there were lush bundles of winter greens, and even some hardy berries (this is California after all).
But then I came across the mushroom booth. I had eyed the golden, tawny treasures there at the beginning of fall, immediately envying their purveyors for what I could only imagine was a freewheeling life of forest foraging and moonshine around campfires.
But I digress. I purchased a brown paper bag of chanterelles, perfectly in season. And later on, after a hike in the Hollywood hills, this is what I made:
Chanterelles, Acorn Squash, and Japanese Yam on Polenta
Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds, lay face down on a pan. Throw yam on the pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until they yield easily to a fork. When done, remove to a plate to cool.
Wash chanterelles (about 12), chop into large pieces. Melt a chunk of butter in a small saucepan and add chanterelles. Saute, and add a couple cloves of minced garlic. I threw in a dash of white wine and a bit of salt.
This will all smell heavenly.
I used the tube of polenta you can buy at the grocery. Not as pillowy as making it yourself, but still tasty. Slice about 6 discs off, about 1/4 inch thick. Fry in olive oil. When a bit crisp, remove and place three to a plate. Sprinkle with grated parmesan or other hard cheese.
When squash and yam are cool enough to handle, scrape flesh into a pan. Saute, mashing them a bit, and add splashes of white wine or half-and-half. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Plunk a nice heap of the mashed squash and yam on the polenta rounds. Top with chanterelles. Serve to your impressed dinner companion.
This dish was a real knockout. The flavorful mushrooms and the polenta alone are a fantastic duo, and the mashed autumnal addition adds a nice earthy sweetness. Enjoy!